How 12 Artists Are Proving that a Picture is Worth 1,000 Words

The exhibition features 12 artists who incorporate words, either spoken or written, within images: vintage photographs, album covers, splashy advertisements, snapshots of roadside diners, and airport windows. 
Featured works include Are You Rea, an eerie 1968 portfolio of lithographs by , the founder of UCLA’s photography program and the subject of a 2014 retrospective at MoMA; and Crackle & Drag, Death (track #20/0:25) (2014) ’s dubplate audio recordings of his mother. Like Heinecken, Ericsson’s artistic reputation precedes him: his work resides in the permanent collections at the Whitney and the Hirshhorn, and The Huffington Post named his upcoming solo show at the Cleveland Museum of Art as one of the most anticipated exhibitions of 2015.
Other notable works in “Words Matter” range from a selection of ’s “Real Fake Art” series, to a tongue-in-cheek pop art knockoff from ’s “Allegedly” series, a project that highlights the appearance of the chainsaw in American pop culture. Rounding out the show are World War II-era mixed media photo collages by Russian artist Alexander Zhitomirsky, ’s searing explorations of contemporary life in commercial settings, ’s somber “visual anthropologies” (see Eat, Inyokern, CA (1998)), and the mesmerizing and gently comical Target (2008) by the Israeli artist , among others.
Taken together, these “Words”—at turns humorous and scathing, sentimental and mysterious, challenging and heartbreaking—pack a punch. To paraphrase Churchill, these words are out there, and can’t be taken back. It’s a fact you won’t be sorry of when walking around this thought-provoking exhibition.
—Bridget Gleeson

Words Matter” is on view at Robert Koch Gallery, San Francisco, Feb. 19–May 2, 2015.